NFL Film Breakdown: Bears Wide Receiver Allen Robinson is so Good He’s QB Proof

Allen Robinson has flown under the radar with the Chicago Bears but he’s hard to miss once you turn on the film. In 2019, he had 98 receptions for 1,147 yards, was the 5th best receiver on contested catches, and is one of the more nuanced route runners in the NFL. As you might expect with winning contested catches, he has great body control, attacks the ball in the air, and is physical at the point of the catch and that’s all great, but he didn’t even need to use that ability very often. He has a great feel for finding open zones and sitting behind flowing linebackers, he always has a plan of attack at the line of scrimmage, and he consistently sets up defensive backs to open himself up. It doesn’t really matter whether he’s working against zone or man coverage. He shows high football IQ and understands of how to manipulate defenders within the framework of the defense.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It might seem simple but he does a great job of working off flowing defenders in zone. It takes an understanding of what defense you’re looking at to understand who to work off of and where the soft spot in the zone will be. The Broncos here are running a variation of cover 6 with an initial inside out bracket on Robinson. Cover 6 is a combination of both cover 2 and cover 4. So to one side of the field you have cover 2 with a deep half safety and a corner in the flats. On the other side of the field you have two deep safeties taking deep quarters. The Broncos nickel corner is aligned pretty deep to bracket the first vertical route that appears to dissuade any inside release before he comes down to the flat. As soon as that defender flows down, Robinson breaks off his curl a yard past the sticks for what would be a first down on 3rd and 8. Not an easy concept and coverage to read and diagnose on the fly but Robinson shows good understanding of the down and distance, coverage, and who to key off of while he’s running the route.

He reads these defender keys incredibly quickly — especially in the underneath game. As soon as flat defenders run by him and clear space behind, he immediately snaps off his route and sits down. You can see as soon as the ball is snapped here he looks at the nickel back who has flat responsibilities. As the defender takes steps towards the flats to cover the running back, Robinson sits immediately behind him in the soft area of the zone coverage for an easy completion.

It’s a simple concept, but it makes for efficient football and it’s a really easy and basic read for the quarterback. It demonstrates an understanding of what’s going on, film study, and is part of the reason why he was able to get almost 100 receptions on the year.

Even if he’s not sitting or snapping his route off, he uses the flow of defenders to signal when to look for the ball and when he’ll be open. Here, the Packers are doing a late rotate by bringing one of their safeties down. As soon as the safety clears him towards the flats, he turns his head expecting the ball. He knows the window where the ball will come to and is prepared and is processing these things incredibly fast.

So, he understands how to defeat zone but to be an elite receiver, you have to be able to win against man and be able to attack man concepts within zone coverage.  His ability to win contested catches and attack the ball certainly help him here and he’s not afraid of taking a hit. He has elite body control along the sidelines and is great at high pointing the ball.

Where Robinson really separates is with his releases and his work in his route stem and breaks. He has a variety of releases that he uses for different situations and defenders and while most receivers have an “A” release and a “B” release that they use most often, Robinson is pretty diverse in his combination of releases. He’s really good and quick at giving a good slide or skip release that pushes the defender opposite of the way he intends to break. He uses this a lot when defenders are walked up on him but aren’t pressing. He works that release right here which gives him more route side space and gets him up on the toes of the DB. The closer he gets to the defender, the less cushion and time they have to break on the route. So if you’re gaining ground AND stemming outside, it’s really hard for guys to recover. He does an excellent job of staying low on these releases too. Once your body sinks, DBs key on that and your hips to help them break on the ball more quickly. By staying at the same level the whole route, he takes that read key away.

Now, once he’s set up that quick stem release, he can work a double to get to a fade which is what he’s doing here. He’s getting up on the defenders toes, stopping their feet with the first jab, and keeping his hips pointed vertically. Keeping his hips vertical allows him to maintain speed and explosiveness while the defender has to turn and run with him.

This stemming concept and pushing defenders away from route-side space doesn’t have to be at the line of scrimmage either. He also uses it when he’s into the route and facing off coverage. Here he pushes the defender inside and gives a jab which opens up more space for him to operate on the outside while simultaneously removing the defenders hand and then working to stack on top of him before breaking off to the corner.

He’s got these stem releases down where he’s pushing defenders away from route side space but he’s also really good at removing defenders’ hands when they do try and bump or re-route him. The cleaner the release, the quicker he can get onto his route track and the quicker he can get open.

Sometimes he’ll just use a bench release and overpower defenders if they’re close enough to the line of scrimmage and he needs room to operate.

He also uses this at the top of his routes with subtle pushes to use the defenders momentum against them and create space for himself. Once he gets an inside release he then leans back outside to create contact with the defender and give himself leverage. In sync with his plant and burst, he also chicken wings to push the defender and propel himself the opposite direction.

He does this horizontally but he can also do it vertically on curls and comebacks. He sells vertical really hard and on his breakdown to come back to the ball, he also pushes the defender by to create that extra separation.

All compiled into one here, the Raiders are running cover 6 just like the broncos were earlier and Robinson is working on the outside corner. It’s a designed double move so he has to sell post and he knows he will get help from Chase Daniel with a pump fake since it’s zone coverage and the defenders will have eyes on the quarterback. With the DBs eyes in the backfield and only having the Robinson in his peripheral vision, Robinson works up on to his toes and into his field of vision before giving a hard shoulder and head nod. Since he’s gained ground and is on the DBs toes, the defender has less time to recover as he converts to a fade. The defender isn’t in terrible position but Robinson is still able to high point and attack the ball in the air and get two feet down.

Robinson is a pretty polished and complete receiver but there were some weird instances of a lack of effort scattered through the film. He’s a more than willing and capable blocker most of the time and uses his length and size to overpower corners and drive them out of the play.

But then in the Broncos game you get plays like these from him where he’s just 100% not wanting to participate in the play at all. He’ll make no effort to block and run right by guys when the play is coming at him.

He literally jogged an entire route while not once looking back for the ball or making himself available for the quarterback. Even if he’s a designed clear out there’s no play on planet earth where you jog 20 yards downfield and don’t turn around on a pass play

Again here he’s running half speed and doesn’t once look back for the ball or to adjust to the quarterback.

It’s wildly confusing because it contradicts everything else he’s put on film. He’ll block, run hard, is disciplined with his route running and is clearly a dedicated player that comes prepared every week so it was surprising to see a whole game where he looked like he had no interest in being there. The good news is these types of low effort plays didn’t pop up much in other games throughout the season.

Allen Robinson is a complete receiver and it’s time for him to get some recognition. He’s incredibly technically sound, is a smart and efficient player, has great hands, and sells out for the ball. It almost doesn’t matter who’s throwing to him because he’s just that talented. As the Bears try to figure out who’s going to be behind center, there’s one thing that’s for sure: Allen Robinson is going to be open.

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NFL Film Breakdown: Allen Lazard’s Growth and Potential in Green Bay

The Green Bay Packers struggled to find a reliable target outside of Davante Adams all season. They had four different players between 400 and 500 yards receiving including the aging Jimmy Graham and running back Aaron Jones. That leaves just two receivers who managed to get to the 400 yard mark for the Packers outside of Adams: Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Valdes-Scantling clearly grew out of favor with the coaches and had a total of 5 catches on 19 targets and just 36 yards after week 7. Allen Lazard on the other hand, started to come on strong towards the end of the year. While he only had 477 yards and 3 touchdowns, he showed good growth and started to carve out a role for himself as a reliable second receiving option in Green Bay.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

While he isn’t the most explosive, his route technique and knowledge grew throughout the year. He started to look more polished, became a frequent target on RPOs, and was a really solid blocker. At 6’5″ and 227 lbs, he’s got to be a guy that can win with his frame, strength, and attack the ball in the air. He won’t win on pure athleticism so he has to match his physical tools with sound technique and smart play to have consistent success.

We’ll start with his blocking because if you’re going to play in Matt LaFleur’s system, the bigger body you are and the more willing and capable of a blocker you are, the more chances you’re going to have to be on the field and thus, the more opportunities you’re going to have to make an impact in the passing game. His upper body and core and hip strength are really impressive and allow him to stay square on defenders. He’s able to move his feet and despite his tall frame, he maintains good leverage. He can knock smaller corners off the ball and uses a wide and solid base that helps him maintain power and push while staying in front of defenders and avoiding holding calls.

If you’re an undrafted guy it always helps to show great effort. Lazard has committed to the blocking game, has been in the right place for Aaron Rodgers, and makes plays like these where he’s sprinting down the field to help make a block.

While his blocking is consistent and has gotten him more reps, he’s isn’t going to blow defenders away with his athleticism so he needs to use his large frame to win routes. As mentioned before, he has a size advantage on most DBs and he does a really good job of attacking the ball in the air and has started to use that frame to his advantage. He rarely lets the ball get into his body which allows him to win contested catches and enables him to maintain his stride for yards after the catch.

While he attacks the ball and has begun to use his frame, he can still struggle with jams and getting out of his breaks with physical defenders. He shows inconsistent hand usage when trying to defeat bumps and checks at the linebacker level and in press.

Instead of using his hands, he typically takes his shoulder away from the bump attempts. It can be subtle but it reduces the surface area the defender has to attack. With the smaller surface area, it’s harder for the defender to get a powerful jam and allows for more fluid releases when the defender is less aggressive at the line.

One area he’s started to excel at are his slants. Earlier in the year he could get a little too wide on his initial outside stem and once he had the defensive back beat, they’d be in his slant path which would then throw off the timing of the route. He gets the corners hips to turn here but because he got too vertical, he has to flatten his slant to get to open space and he isn’t open when Rodgers is looking which results in a throwaway.

Compared to the last few games of the year, he looks much more polished with his releases and initial stems and pushes to the outside on his slants. He’s more careful not to over-run his stem and leaves space so he can get underneath them once he’s pushed up onto their toes and forces them to turn their hips. Especially when you have a corner walked up in man coverage, it’s important to threaten them vertically on any route you run. The last thing they want is to get beat deep. To take advantage of that, you have to get up close to them and sell a vertical route which is what Lazard has started to do really well. His initial track and stem of his route is as if he’s running a fade down the sideline. Defenders have to respect that and once they turn their hips to the outside to run with him, it leaves space underneath for Lazard to attack. It can be quick or more elongated based on the coverage and timing of the play but he has begun to put the pieces together to be able to get himself open and manipulate defenders in man coverage.

He’s also begun to integrate other route techniques that aren’t quite as polished but it does show that he’s starting to translate technique to games. In zone coverage, if at all possible, you’ve got to attack defenders blind spot. When corners turn in towards the quarterback with their back to the sideline, there’s a window a yard or two away from them where they lose visibility if the receiver gets up on them. You can see him attempt that exact technique but he shorts it a little and is still visible by the defensive back. The issue is that he takes a poor initial track towards the rotating safety and enters the blind spot late. The Packers are running a play-action shot here and the run action is going to the left. While it happens, a late out-breaking route away from a run action is a really long throw and the defensive back has eyes on the quarterback in case that happens. So to the sell from an inside stem back to a deep out, comeback, or corner when Rodgers is on the opposite hash is a pretty tough throw and allows the DB to have more time to break on it. Because of this, he doesn’t need to immediately react to it. With Lazard entering into and staying inside the corners vision until the very top of the route, Lazard is closing the window for the throw by bringing himself closer to the safety while simultaneously keeping himself within vision of the defensive back that’s in cover 3. If he stems instead a little to the outside or runs on a line, he can widen the corner, stay away from the safety, and more feasibly enter the blind spot of the DB.

With Lazard’s lack of true deep-threat speed or explosive athleticism, he’s got to be super polished with his route technique and a disciplined player that uses his body and size to win contested catches. He’s started to do both of those things which is encouraging but he’s definitely not there yet.

For an undrafted free agent in only his second year, Allen Lazard has shown promise. His tenacity in the blocking game will get him on the field and allow him to grow into a more precise and advanced route runner. As he develops into the system and hones his skill set while developing chemistry with Aaron Rodgers, he can serve as a solid #2 or #3 receiver. If the Packers end up running more 12 or 22 personnel with running backs and tight ends, you only have 2 or 3 receivers on the field anyways. Green Bay’s need for receivers might be the hot topic of conversation, but Lazard is able to produce and has shown good chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. If he continues to develop alongside Devante Adams, the sky is the limit for a Packers offense that is otherwise full of top talent and is ready to push for a Super Bowl appearance.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on Instagram @weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

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NFL Film Breakdown: Robert Woods is the Most Versatile Weapon in the Rams Offense

Since signing with the Rams in 2017, Robert Woods has 3,134 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 232 receptions. Throw in 38 carries for 284 yards and he’s the absolute model of consistency and production. In 2019 he had six games where he was targeted over 11 times, and gained 50 or more yards in 9 of the 15 games he played in. He’s a bit of a jack of all trades but master of none. He has reliable hands, good speed, can snap off routes, is a willing blocker, and uses good route technique. He doesn’t dominate in any one category though and because of this he can sometimes struggle to create separation and can get a little too caught up in route stems and moves when they aren’t applicable.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/rams-wide-receiver-robert-woods-returns-to-the-team-status-vs-ravens-in-week-12-remains-uncertain/

Be that as it may, the numbers don’t lie and McVay makes a very conscious effort to involve Woods in every game. They love running him on screens and he shows excellent vision and patience after the catch and can weave through blocks and defenders. McVay does a good job of window dressing a lot of his concepts but the end result is the same – get the ball to Woods in space and let him work and gain yards. It’s an easy throw and catch and is a good way to guarantee production from one of the best players on your team.

In almost every game, McVay also uses Woods in a tight Ace bunch formation and has him chip and block a defensive end. After showing this once, he’ll run the same formation and have Woods fake the block and release into the flats. It’s a simple concept that takes advantage of over-aggressive defenses, relies on Woods’ blocking ability, and shows effort to scheme Woods into the game and get him in space where he can go to work with room to maneuver.

This concept works because Woods is an aggressive and willing blocker. He’s definitely not shy of being physical or initiating contact and it allows McVay to utilize him in a lot of ways.

Woods shows really good understanding of route technique and applies them consistently to game scenarios. He does an excellent job of hand removal — especially when already into his route. It helps him create separation, prevents defenders from feeling him while having their eyes on the QB, and allows him to maintain his speed. It’s incredibly hard to get hands on him and playing press man would be a big ask for any DB that’s lined up on him.

He has just enough speed to keep defenders honest and can speed cut really well. He maintains speed and is really good at deep outs, pushing up on defenders, and cutting underneath them while losing very little speed.

While he incorporates all the right route running techniques into his routes, a minor nitpick is that he struggles pushing onto defender’s toes and making them respect those moves. The stems and moves at the top of your route are great but if the defender doesn’t feel threatened and you haven’t closed enough space, all they’re going to do is slow you down and defenders won’t bite or be moved. It’s subtle but you can see here how he gives a hard move and jab to the outside when the defender still has 4 yards of cushion on him. It doesn’t threaten him and the defensive back doesn’t bite on it.

When a receiver isn’t threatening the leverage of the defensive back quickly enough or the DB isn’t scared of their speed, it makes it really difficult to move them and get them out of position which you can see crop up with Woods at times.

Compare that now to similar moves when he’s on the defender’s toes and threatening them vertically. Once he’s hip to hip with the defender he looks over the wrong shoulder and gives a quick move to the inside. The defender has to respect this move because if he doesn’t, he has less cushion and time to recover. This gives him just enough separation off his cut to open a window for the ball. The difference is night and day when he can get up to defender’s toes and really threaten their spot and attack their leverage. 

He understands how to push defenders and the power of stemming and looking, he just doesn’t threaten DBs consistently enough for it to help him get separation all the time.

He can also struggle with directional releases. His desire to stem and push defenders one way to open up space can sometimes backfire. When releasing from the line of scrimmage, you want to give yourself the best leverage possible. It’s not an inflexible rule, but generally if you have an in-breaking route, you want to release inside of the defender, if you have an out-breaking route, you want to release outside. Woods doesn’t do this on a consistent basis. If you can work back on top of your defender or stem them to open up space, it’s great, but when you don’t win or threaten them, you’re running yourself into being covered. You can see on these how his releases are setting him up in disadvantageous situations and how he’s struggling to navigate through chips when he takes the wrong release.

Woods is definitely capable of applying all these techniques appropriately, he just needs some small tweaks to take his game to the next level.

All together, Robert Woods is a highly efficient receiver for the Rams. He doesn’t blow you away athletically, but he applies coaching really well, is heavily involved in the scheme that the Rams run, and is a smart and disciplined player. While he struggles to combine it all together on a snap-to-snap basis at times, for every poor release and route strategy, there’s an equally good one. He’s clearly a top target in that offense and while McVay’s system may rely on longer developing play-action, it also incorporates quick screens, jet sweeps, and additional touches for its receivers. While he isn’t poised for an even greater breakout and may be maximizing his productivity, if Woods can continue his growth in LA, there’s no indication his production will dip and he’ll help the Rams compete for a very tough NFC West crown.

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NFL Film Breakdown: Why Calvin Ridley Could Have a Better Year Than Julio Jones

Before going down in week 14 with an abdominal injury, Calvin Ridley was averaging 13.7 yards per reception, had 7 targets a game, and was torching corners left and right. While often overshadowed by receiving mate Julio Jones, Ridley is quietly developing into a premier talent at receiver. He has incredibly polished routes, good burst and open field speed, long strides that help him eat up ground, and when defenses focus on Julio Jones he can make them pay. He can struggle with physical corners and press man at times but if you give him space or a clean release he is insanely tough to guard in the open field. He has great speed cuts, can snap off routes, and attacks the ball in the air. The Falcons feel like the forgotten team in the NFC South with the arrival of Tom Brady in Tampa Bay but if you sleep on Calvin Ridley, you’re going to get burned.

Note: If you prefer to watch a video breakdown, scroll to the bottom of this article.

https://rolltidewire.usatoday.com/2020/02/05/will-2020-be-calvin-ridley-breakout-season/

Ridley’s speed allows everything to work. He looks incredibly fast on film. His speed allows him to threaten deep and then snap routes off, speed cut, and create separation to set up comebacks, curls, and digs. Speed is the greatest fear of every defense. The threat of the big play is powerful in any offense and the Falcons have two guys in Julio and Ridley that can take the top off the defense.

Ridley’s speed cuts are out of this world. As we saw, he has the speed to threaten defensive backs deep and make them turn their hips. He can then combine that with rolling into his cuts on deep digs or outs. The speed cut allows him to maintain speed and get to his landmark while the defensive back has to plant and change direction. It creates a ton of separation and opens big windows for Matt Ryan to throw into.

The physical tools pop out on film but what’s really impressive is his route technique. He shows excellent understanding of how to manipulate defenders, get them to turn their hips, and create separation for himself using not only his athleticism, but his mind and game-sense as well.

His most effective technique is to stem defenders the opposite way of his intended route. They have to respect his speed and turn their hips to run with him. As soon as they do, Ridley plants and shows great burst and explosion back the other way. It sounds simple but takes good athleticism, an understanding of the coverage, and shows he has a plan of attack every time he steps up to the line of scrimmage.

Attacking the leverage of the defender is a powerful tool. The shade of the corner indicates the area that they don’t want you to be able to access. So if they’re shading with inside leverage or they’re lined up directly in front of the receiver, they likely want to protect their inside space. So as a receiver, if you threaten that inside space and give them a move to the inside, they’re going to jump to protect it. When a defender is in man coverage, they want to widen the receiver to the sideline so that they minimize the space you have to work with. Ridley consistently does this and with impressive effectiveness. He stems inside like he’s running a slant forcing the corner to attack. He then releases back outside and is wide open down the sideline.

Here he stems to the outside to make the corner turn his hips to the sideline before breaking back inside on the slant.

These kind of examples are everywhere. Whether the defensive back is in press or not. He threatens their leverage and then attacks the space they vacate.

Here again he does a really good job of widening his stem outside away from where he will break. He uses good eye discipline and locks in like he’s running a seam or a deep corner to the side of the rollout. The safety reads that, sees the rollout, and when he starts to move over, Ridley plants to go to a post in the area the safety vacated.

From the slot he’ll push his stem away from his route-side space and create separation for himself as you can see here. The defender moves in with him before Ridley releases back outside and works to stack on top of the defender. If you can stack directly on top of the defender with the DB in a trail position, you have a ton of power as a receiver. The corner doesn’t know which way you’re going, can’t get hands on you, and you have leverage for any ball over the top.

Here’s another example of Ridley working a side hop to widen the DB and create space for an inside release. Once he takes that inside release, though, he knows he has to stack back on top of the corner. If he stays inside, the safety is going to be there to make the play so he widens, works inside, and then fights hard with his speed to get back on top of the defender and create space for the throw.

If there’s one thing Ridley can struggle with, it’s physical corners or his hand usage when defenders get their hands on him. He can get re-routed at times or struggle to remove the hands of defenders – especially later into routes.

Instead of using his hands, he tries to create body lean to get leverage to separate at the top of his route. As a result, he gets washed into the linebacker and thrown off his route.  By using this technique, he doesn’t use his physical tools to their full potential. In this scenario he’s in a strength fight with a DB rather than a race. This slows down the timing of his route and while he may get separation eventually, often it’s too late in the timeline of the play.

Calvin Ridley has the route knowledge and physical tools to be a #1 receiver on almost any other team. His understanding of how to manipulate defenders is impressive for only a 2nd year player going into his third season. He has lethal speed that can threaten teams deep, has speed cuts that create separation, and has the mental game to exploit the position of defenders. With Julio on the field Ridley can dominate CB2s and easily creates consistent separation for himself on all route types. He’s dynamic with the ball in his hands, attacks the ball in the air, and shows everything you’d hope for in a first round receiver talent. You can buy into the hype of the Saints and the Bucs all you want, but there’s a snake creeping along in the NFC South and if you don’t pay attention to the Falcons, they’re entirely capable of stealing the division crown. The Falcons are far from a rebuild or reload. They’re ready right now and Calvin Ridley can put them over the top.

If you liked this post make sure to subscribe below and let us know what you think. If you feel like donating and want access to some early blog releases and exclusive breakdown content or to help us keep things running, you can visit our Patreon page here. Make sure to follow us on YouTube for video breakdowns and Instagram@weekly_spiral and twitter @weeklyspiral for updates when we post and release our podcasts. You can find the Weekly Spiral podcast on Spotify or anywhere you listen.

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NFL Film Breakdown: The Hidden Star in Miami

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After a slow first four years in the NFL where his highest yardage total in a season was 744 with only 4 touchdowns, DeVante Parker blew the doors off his 2019 campaign. The 27 year old out of Louisville racked up 1,202, 9 touchdowns, and averaged 16.7 yards a reception – good for 10th best in the league. His combination of route running ability, size, speed, and physicality at the point of the catch made it difficult for defensive backs to win contested catches and stay with him. He’s fearless across the middle, will attack the ball in the air, shows really good understanding of route running technique, and consistently turns defenders around and creates space for himself.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Parker does an amazing job of attacking the ball in the air. He high points, has strong hands, and is truly exceptional at winning 50/50 balls downfield. He elevates, uses his hands, and shows incredible eye discipline. Tracking the ball all the way through the catch separates the elite pass catchers in the NFL. If their helmet and eyes follow the ball all the way through, they catch it almost 100% of the time. Take a look below at how Parker elevates and tracks the ball with his eyes all the way through the catch, and immediately protects the ball and pulls it away from defenders in the clips below.

He has elite body control which allows him to win those jump balls, back shoulders, and contested catches. Now throw in his route running abilities which jump off the screen and you’ve got a guy that almost doubled his career yardage total in his 5th year. His ability to manipulate even the best corners by attacking their blind spot, forcing them to turn their hips with route stems, and setting up corners to guess incorrectly is elite. My favorite play of his from last year is a simple deep out on defensive player of the year Stephon Gilmore. The Dolphins put Parker in motion which gives him momentum to take an outside release and forces Gilmore to play a little further off than normal. With his goal to get to the sideline 10 yards downfield, Parker has leverage on Gilmore which immediately makes him opens up his hips to run with Parker. Parker then works back inside indicating he’s going to the post or dig which again forces Gilmore to turn his hips and run with him to the inside. As soon as Gilmore turns his back to flip his hips, Parker attacks his blind-spot and cuts flat outside with Gilmore totally lost in coverage.

Parker shows great understanding of getting onto the defenders toes to close space and minimize the time that the corner has to react to his cuts. Below, he does some front foot skip that eats up a yard and closes the cushion while freezing the defender. Since his inside foot stays up on the skip, he’s primed and ready to explode up and out on a fade release to the outside and quickly wins his route.

Whether he slow plays it or does a hard stem outside, he will routinely sell fade and come back to slants. When defenders are up close, it makes it incredibly hard to defend – especially with his frame and the way he attacks the ball in the air. The foot fire and initial fade steps close the distance and gets the corners out of position.

A principle of attacking man coverage as a receiver is to push their leverage. Whatever way the defender is shading you is the way they generally don’t want you to go. By attacking that leverage, you are threatening the space they most want to protect. Parker uses this to his advantage on Gilmore below and sells a slant with Gilmore shading inside. He takes two steps in before turning it up to a fade on the outside. Parker wins on the route but if he has one weakness, it’s that he can lack physicality when running his routes and can struggle with jams. Gilmore gets a punch on him and slows him down but he still is able to create separation and you can see the impact of the initial slant stem and how it opens up space for him to the outside.

While he’s incredibly aggressive to the ball in the air, he can struggle to use his hands when releasing against press or against physical defenders. You’d like to see more active hand fighting to help create separation and prevent corners from slowing him down. He has the strength and frame to out-reach most corners and while he’s gotten better, he still isn’t quite all the way there yet.

DeVante Parker has finally started to put all the physical tools together. He’s using his frame to attack the ball in the air, demonstrates great route technique and understanding, and has translated it all into production on the field. It’s rare to find guys that take 4 whole years to develop into true number one receivers, but Parker has all the makings of one. Maybe not as dominant as Michael Thomas, but if he continues to improve and polish and develop a connection with new Miami QB Tua Tagovailoa, Parker can become an absolutely dominant force in the AFC East.

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